I know I'm not the brightest bulb so I may be missing the mark but I did a 10 min search before my earlier post. All the statistics I saw were based on the NFIRS numbers. The numbers broke down the fires by type. Electrical distribution was one of the types but it included lights. Again if I understood correctly, electrical distribution including lightbulbs only contributed for 1% of the casualties. I would be willing to bet substantial money that most of the 1% was due to hot light bulbs being too close to combustable material.
OK, for starters, let me apologize for being overly harsh in my earlier response. Thank you for calling attention to the research you have done.
For anyone following along, NFIRS (National Fire Incident Reporting System) is a database maintained by FEMA.
There are some problems with using NFIRS statistics to talk about electrical safety. For starters, the statistics there are only for structure fires. While structure fires are more likely to involve death or serious injury, they do not comprise the majority of all fires, many of which do not progress to "structurally involved." Being a disaster responder myself, I know how FEMA thinks (if you can call it that) and what they track, and their interest is not prevention or life safety but rather response and recovery.
Another problem with NFIRS statistics is that they capture only those incidents that are subject to reporting. Again, many fires do not meet this threshold. Moreover, the data is only gathered once -- at incident response. So there are a huge number of fires that get entered into the system as "cause unknown", many of which are actually attributed to a root cause later on.
Lastly, the way this database characterizes root causes, fires started electrically in appliances would be characterized as appliance fires, in heating equipment as heating fires, etc.; only fires that start in the "distribution system" fall into the category you cite as being about 1%. Remember that overload current (or electrical arcs, for that matter) is actually more likely to start a fire in or near utilization equipment than in part of the distribution. Many arc-induced fires are reported as "other: spark."
The data are so loose, in fact, that FEMA warns they are inconclusive and should not be used for decision-making. To make sense of all the information requires some digesting and further analysis.
The seminal work in this area is "The U.S. Fire Problem Overview Report: Leading Causes and Other Patterns and Trends" by M. Ahrens published in 2003. Unfortunately, I no longer have access to this document to quote anything reliable. Also, this is published (as are many fire safety studies) by the NFPA, whom you seem to distrust; I'm not sure how to get around that.
I don't understand why you think I'm against codes.
Because you wrote "I don't understand why it would be required for all of America adopt. It doesn't provide one bit more protection for the average person."
Perhaps I misunderstood you, but that seems to be a blanket statement condemning the requirement for an electrical code outside of institutional use. You did not limit your statement to specific provisions of the code with which you might disagree
I can assure you that if there were no codes whatsoever, then builders would do whatever was cheapest, not safest, and so would many homeowners and hired repair contractors. I have been to countries that enforce few or no building codes, and it is downright scary.
One can argue pros and cons for many individual provisions of any code. As I wrote earlier, it is a delicate balancing act. As hard as it is for safety advocates to swallow, there are many potentially life-saving technologies that are simply deemed too expensive to be justified. So, yes, there are some number of lives that we all agree are not worth the cost to save. For example, someone here has mentioned residential fire sprinklers. There is absolutely no question that these would save thousands of lives and billions in property, not to mention response costs. But so far, most agencies have felt that the cost this would add to a home would put homes that much further out of reach for so many people that it is a poor tradeoff.
Before the NFPA copyright suit I would have agreed with you that they were interested in safety. Since then it looks like they have been more concerned with power and money. Nonprofit but that doesn't mean they don't make lots of money.
The fact that they defend their intellectual property (IP) aggressively does not, by itself, make them more interested in money than safety. Like any organization, they need to protect their source of funds, and they also need to ensure that they retain editorial control of IP that can be attributed back to them.
I also aggressively defend my own IP, even though I do not make a dime from it today.
The NFPA is a completely open and transparent organization. Anyone can join, and anyone can get on a committee. Like many such organizations, its operations are governed by bylaws and articles of organization, and its leadership is openly elected through democratic process.
It should also be noted that the NFPA is not a regulatory body. No state or municipality is forced to use anything they publish. And yet every state has adopted the NEC (and many other NFPA documents) as law, because, on balance, they have done an outstanding job.
You have a wider experience than I do. Have you ever seen an arc? Do they matter in this day and age of fire retardation.
Yes and yes. As I wrote earlier, the problems AFCIs will address are a minute fraction of situations. But that's like saying that sudden decompression is a minute fraction of all aviation failures, so we shouldn't bother with oxygen masks on planes, or that sinking is a minute fraction (nowadays) of all maritime passenger vessel accidents, so we shouldn't bother with requiring lifeboats or life vests. All of these things are true, yet few argue we should do away with aircraft or vessel safety equipment.
I don't think the nation should pay for the installation and upkeep of GFIs and ARCs for the nebulous .0001% of the population.
PS It was a pun.
Sadly, there are many who would agree with this statement, no pun intended.